There are many different ways of advertising products other than in magazines, such as television, radio, cinema, outdoor advertising and most recently the internet. The main qualities of magazine advertising over these other mediums are magazines' high-end audiences, the enthusiasm of these audiences toward products presented to them and the long life of magazines, as they tend to stick around on coffee tables for long periods of time.
Magazines' main readership demographically are people aged 18 to 44 with a college education and a relatively high household income of $50,000 and generally living in a household of three or more people. Magazines are also attractive in that it is likely that the reader is interested in the topic of the magazine and therefore selling the same product or a related one will be popular, for example a beauty product in a women's magazine or car products in an automobile magazine.
Compared to other forms consumers seem less perturbed by the existence of advertising in magazines. About a third of consumers ignore adverts on televisions whereas only 10 percent ignore magazine advertising. Nearly half of magazine readers said that they purchased a product as a result of seeing an advertisement in a magazine, which is 10 percent more than people who purchase a product based on television. Compared to internet advertising, magazine advertising is more than seven times more likely to persuade consumers to part with their money.
Some of these findings can be related to the fact that people can absorb information from reading five times faster compared to the spoken word. They also react differently to an advert in a magazine and implicitly trust it more as they place more authority on the written word.
Another important feature of magazines is their long issue life. A monthly magazine will probably remain in a home for over four weeks rather than a newspaper which lasts a day before being thrown out or a television program which lasts around half an hour. The long life of a magazine means that it gives more opportunity for the adverts to be seen again and again. Also since magazines are around for so long there are normally four readers of the magazine who each spend over an hour reading it.
However, magazines are not the perfect form of advertising and there are drawbacks. One of the disadvantages is that magazine advertising has a relatively long lead time, which makes it much harder to create newsworthy or timely ads like those that are seen in other forms of print advertising like a newspaper. Also, since magazines are bound by the two-dimensional nature of the medium of the page, the adverts are less lifelike compared to television and that may affect the way the product is presented.
Compared to other forms of advertising mediums, magazines are relatively expensive in terms of cost per reaching 1,000 members of the audience, compared to a mass form of advertising such as television or radio. Also, some of the benefits of magazine advertising can be disadvantages such as an advert in the magazine being totally ignored by simply turning the page.
There is also a debate about the international accessibility of magazines. Pictoral magazines can be understood over most cultural lines and are not bound by national borders. However, the written elements of the adverts, such as the by-lines or other written copy, cannot necessarily be translated and therefore are stuck within the national boundary. This has been gotten round in the past by having translations of the text within the advert in magazines that are likely to be read by people in territories with two different predominant languages, for example the magazines found on airlines, or to make sure that the picture of the advert tells the story and sells the product in such a way that the words are superfluous. However, most brands are now international and people are aware of the symbol of the brand and understand which product the advert is recognizing and therefore also know the tagline and message associated with the company and no longer have to be reminded.